“Should I stay, or should I go?”
In 1982, the band The Clash released a song with this name—a title that is as catchy as it is evergreen. Who couldn’t relate to it in some way?
After all, at some point in life, almost all of us have had to face a version of this question: “Should I do X or Y?”
For instance, a while ago, I faced the question of whether I should relocate to another continent. I didn’t make my decision lightly.
What we do, where we do it, and who we do it with are all linked to decisions we have made along the way. Therefore, one of the first steps in creating the life we want is to make a great decision when faced with the question: “Should I do X or Y?”
But how exactly do we make a great decision?
Often, what we see in the world is either an overly rational or overly instinctual decision-making process.
People who follow the overly rational approach tend to create long lists of pros and cons and engage in head-based analysis. This often leads to getting stuck in a loop and replaying the “what ifs” about the different options repeatedly. While this approach doesn’t lead to rash, inconsiderate actions, the prolonged indecisiveness that often goes along with it can be painful.
People who follow the overly instinctual approach don’t really stop to think, but instead just move into action. While this approach leads to an outcome more quickly and doesn’t include a prolonged period of indecisiveness, the consequences of the chosen path of action are not thought out. This is perfectly appropriate for a small child, but not for an adult.
The main reason underneath these two unbalanced approaches is that most of us have never learned how to consider different perspectives at the same time. As a result, people think that they either need to let their heads or their instincts make the decision.
What’s a better approach for coming to a decision?
The simplest and most powerful approach for making important personal decisions was developed by Dr. Brian Whetten, an Executive Coach with a Silicon Valley background. For reasons that will soon become clear, he called his framework “Yes Yes Hell No.”
Here are the first steps for getting started with this approach:
1. Understand that you have distinct inner components.
The first step to moving through any kind of inner impasse is to realize that all of us have distinct inner components. Often, an inner conflict comes from two or more of these components being in conflict. For instance, a typical inner conflict is the one between someone’s “inner health nut” and “inner couch potato,” arguing about whether one should go for a run or eat a bag of chips instead.
When it comes to inner decision making, the main inner components we need to be aware of are our intuition, our reason, and our fear.
These components make themselves “heard” in different ways:
>> Our intuition can show up as a sense that we’re on the right track or that something lights us up.
>> Our reason is typically balanced, calm, and nuanced,
>> Our fear often shows up in the form of anxiety or resistance.
2. Understand the different perspectives of your various aspects—and what comprises a great decision.
Once we become more aware of our intuition, reason, and fear as separate aspects of ourselves, the next step is to realize that they tend to have a distinct perspective on any decision we want to make. In any decision we make, they may either tell us, “Yes, do it,” or, “No, don’t do it.”
Sometimes, these three components come to the same conclusions which makes decision making easy. To use an absurd example, my intuition, reason, and fear alike are clear that becoming a lion tamer would be a terrible lifestyle choice for me. In contrast, my intuition, reason, and fear agree that eating healthy food is a good lifestyle choice for me.
Decision making becomes tricky when there’s disagreement among our intuition, reason, and fear.
And that’s exactly where the “Yes Yes Hell No” concept comes in. According to this idea, a great decision often looks like the following: Our intuition is on board with it (first yes), our reason agrees that it makes logical sense (second yes)—and our fear tells us to run the other way (hell no).
3. Understand that under certain circumstances, fear can be a sign that you are on the right track.
To make great decisions, it’s crucial that we understand that fear is not always a sign that we shouldn’t do something. In cases of actual danger (such as a fire or somebody attacking us with a knife), it’s obviously imperative to listen to our fear and get as far away from any threats as possible.
However, there are also situations which trigger people’s fears that don’t represent any real danger. For instance, a person who has had their heart broken many times may be terrified to hear the words, “I love you,” from somebody who cares about them and wants to be in relationship with them. Somebody who has been avoiding the limelight may be scared to receive an award, a promotion, or another form of success and recognition.
We become great decision makers when we learn how to distinguish these two distinct types of fears.
As Amit Kalantri put it: “In the matters of your life, don’t take orders; take decisions.” By keeping in mind the above, we significantly increase our chances of making a decision that has a positive impact on our life.
**If you would like to explore in more depth how to make great decisions and choose inspirational goals, I invite you to sign up for my complimentary email course, here.
Author: Bere Blissenbach
Image: Flickr/Chiara Cremeshi
Editor: Travis May
Copy Editor: Yoli
Social Editor: Catherine Monkman